Job applicants from hell

PHOTO: Job applicants from hell

School's out for tertiary students, which also means job-hunting season has begun. Recruiters and hiring managers talk to BENITA AW YEONG about nightmare interviews, and the dos and don'ts when it comes to making the best first impression.

What NOT to do at interviews

  • blab about work on social media platforms like Facebook. Even if you conceal the identities of your colleagues or bosses, it's not difficult to draw the link if the name of your company is listed on your profile.
  • dress too casually or flamboyantly, even if you're meeting the recruiter and not your prospective employer. Every impression counts.
  • ask about money matters until the final segment of the interview. If that's the topic you start with, you are signalling that you only want to benefit, not contribute to the company.
  • doodle on pieces of paper while fielding questions. Giving the interviewer your full attention is the least you can do.
  • Leave your phone on the table. Even if it's on silent mode, the sounds of vibrations can be especially jarring.
  • Sit up straight instead of slouching. It's just not professional.
  • dress (and smell) appropriately. This may mean covering up that deep cleavage or investing in some deodorant.
  • sit up straight instead of slouching.
  • call to inform the company if you are going to be late or decide not to turn up.
  • tell your prospective employer what kind of value you can bring to the company instead on harping on your expected level of remuneration.
  • take your portfolio to an interview. Many forget in their haste, say recruiters.
  • offer a warm handshake instead of plopping into the chair or folding your arms. Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview.
  • read up on the company you are hoping to land a spot at.
  • maintain and update your LinkedIn profile, which acts an a virtual resume. You never know who may chance upon it.
  • Mr Dave Chew, assistant manager at recruitment firm TBC HR Consulting:
    "He was a candidate in his late 20s, applying for an executive-level office position.
    "I gave him ample lead time to prepare for our meeting, but he still turned up in the shoddy getup (slippers, singlet and shorts).
    "When I pointed out that his outfit was not suitable for the occasion, he apologised and explained that he was heading to the gym after the meeting.
  • Ms Shirin Aziz, marketing manager at human resource company Adecco Singapore:
    "There are many reasons why people leave their jobs - long working hours, mismatched skills, corporate culture as well as relationships with management and colleagues.
    "But dissing your previous boss or employer during an interview does nothing for your professional image.
    "It not only made me uncomfortable, but I began to wonder if I could potentially fall victim to this, too, should I became her employer.
  • Ms Christine Sim, director of HR consulting at PrimeStaff Management Services:
    "He showed up with hair dyed a shocking yellow, with highlights in a myriad of colours.
    "I'd describe it as a rainbow of sorts.
    "I was considering him for a management trainee position at a bank, so I knew the hair would simply have to be dyed black, and told him so.
  • Mr Chew:
    "The candidate had come to talk about a position I was hoping to put him forward for, but halfway through our conversation, he received a call from another firm or recruiter offering him a job.
    "I stepped out of the room for a while to give him some privacy.
    "When I returned, he asked for my take on the job offer he had just received.
    "It was awkward, to say the least."
  • Ms Shirin:
    "He had good academic results, was active in CCAs, a student leader and he spoke well over the phone.
    "But he arrived three minutes late without a call or text message to inform me. He also didn't apologise when he finally arrived.
    "He was rude, demanding and, on top of that, had very little knowledge about the company and industry trends. He didn't get hired."
  • "Tardiness and lousy eye contact are nothing new.
    "But one candidate who left a particularly bad impression placed both hands on the table to form a chin-rest, then slumped forward and placed her head on her table.
    "I was rather taken aback."
  • Mr Chew:

    "I remember a candidate who sent in a resume with a photo attached. Five people were in it. She indicated that she was the person wearing red.

    "Some candidates have resume photos taken at a birthday party or at the beach. These are strict no-nos."

    "If you don't have a photo of yourself which exudes an air of professionalism, it is better to leave it out altogether."

SCENARIO #1: Dressed for gym

Mr Dave Chew, assistant manager at recruitment firm TBC HR Consulting:

"He was a candidate in his late 20s, applying for an executive-level office position.

"I gave him ample lead time to prepare for our meeting, but he still turned up in the shoddy getup (slippers, singlet and shorts).

"When I pointed out that his outfit was not suitable for the occasion, he apologised and explained that he was heading to the gym after the meeting.

"Granted, the gym was a stone's throw away from my office, but his getup was still unacceptable.

"I short-listed him for a position because of his stellar working experience, but I would advise candidates to dress smartly, even if you're meeting the recruiter and not your prospective employer."

SCENARIO #2:Dissing previous employer

Ms Shirin Aziz, marketing manager at human resource company Adecco Singapore:

"She was a mid-career professional with more than 10 years of experience. Her resume was impressive. She was punctual and well-groomed.

"But things started going south when she started bad-mouthing her ex-employer.

Bizarre behaviour at local job interviews

  • Candidate constantly played with 3cm long nail on last finger
  • Candidate started singing the national anthem and refused to stop
  • Candidate showed up for the interview in a hat and Hawaiian shirt
  • Candidate stalked female interviewer at the staff entrance.
  • Candidate answered her phone mid-interview and taught her mother how to cook a dish.
  • Candidate brought all the trophies he won in school.
  • Candidate arrived and left after using the toilet
  • Candidate kept sucking his thumb before speaking
  • Candidate brought her mother to sit in for interview
  • Candidate combed hair repeatedly during the interview
  • Candidate kept looking around the room like he was searching for someone
  • Candidate requested for a hug
  • Candidate was at reception and yet called to say she was ill
  • Candidate laughed at every single sentence interviewer said
  • Candidate insisted on speaking to the CEO only.
  • Candidate carefully laid out all her stationery on the table.
  • Candidate was over-excited over everything interviewer said
  • Candidate asked interviewer out for a date
  • Candidate brought along her 7 year old brother whom she was babysitting
  • Candidate sat very still during interview with only eyeball movements
  • Candidate whispered to himself when answering questions
  • Candidate refused to shake hands
  • Candidate started crying when she talked about her family problems.
  • Candidate kept looking at interviewer closely with his mouth open

"There are many reasons why people leave their jobs - long working hours, mismatched skills, corporate culture as well as relationships with management and colleagues.

"But dissing your previous boss or employer during an interview does nothing for your professional image.

"It not only made me uncomfortable, but I began to wonder if I could potentially fall victim to this, too, should I became her employer.

"My advice?

"Be truthful and sincere but avoid the scandalous details."

SCENARIO #3:Wild hair

Ms Christine Sim, director of HR consulting at PrimeStaff Management Services:

"He showed up with hair dyed a shocking yellow, with highlights in a myriad of colours.

10 curveball questions hirers use

  • If you were a superhero, which would you be and why?
    Photo: ST
  • You have 15 minutes to tell us everything a brick can be used for.
    Photo: ST
  • Give me 3 positive character traits you DON'T have.
    Photo: TNP
  • If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
    Photo: ST
  • How would you run the company if you are now the boss?
    Photo: ST
  • If you could trade yourself with somebody, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
    Photo: ST
  • If you could choose any position in this company, what position would that be and why?
    Photo: ST
  • What brand would you like to be and why?
    Photo: BT
  • Name 5 adjectives to describe yourself and explain your choices.
    Photo: TNP

"I'd describe it as a rainbow of sorts.

"I was considering him for a management trainee position at a bank, so I knew the hair would simply have to be dyed black, and told him so.

"Thankfully, he listened, and the interview went well."

SCENARIO #4: Seeks opinion on another offer

Mr Chew:

"The candidate had come to talk about a position I was hoping to put him forward for, but halfway through our conversation, he received a call from another firm or recruiter offering him a job.

"I stepped out of the room for a while to give him some privacy.

"When I returned, he asked for my take on the job offer he had just received.

"It was awkward, to say the least."

SCENARIO #5: Better on paper than in person

Ms Shirin:

"He was a fresh polytechnic graduate I was hoping to recruit as a junior marketing executive for my own team. On paper, he looked really good.

"He had good academic results, was active in CCAs, a student leader and he spoke well over the phone.

"But he arrived 30 minutes late without a call or text message to inform me. He also didn't apologise when he finally arrived.

"He was rude, demanding and, on top of that, had very little knowledge about the company and industry trends. He didn't get hired."

SCENARIO #6: Slumped

Mr Chew:

"Tardiness and lousy eye contact are nothing new.

"But one candidate who left a particularly bad impression placed both hands on the table to form a chin-rest, then slumped forward and placed her head on her table.

"I was rather taken aback."

SCENARIO #7:Resume photo horror

Mr Chew:

"I remember a candidate who sent in a resume with a photo attached. Five people were in it. She indicated that she was the person wearing red.

"Some candidates have resume photos taken at a birthday party or at the beach. These are strict no-nos."

"If you don't have a photo of yourself which exudes an air of professionalism, it is better to leave it out altogether."

Tip #1 Dress for the interview, not the gym

Tip #2 Give your interviewer your fullest attention

Tip #3 Don't slouch or fall asleep


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